Have you ever watched a Major League Baseball game and thought to yourself, “If I were as tall as that guy, would I be able to play professionally?” There’s no question that guys at the highest level are physically gifted. Take the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, for example. In addition to being blessed with a golden left arm, the future Hall of Famer stands 6-foot-4 and has unbelievable leg strength. But physicality isn’t the only thing that keeps a talented young pitcher from making the jump to professional ranks. Poor mechanics will sabotage any dreams of a lengthy career for a pitcher. In this post, we will look at the most common pitching mechanic flaws and how to fix them.
- Too short of a stride – Ideally, a pitcher’s stride should be about 85 percent of their height. But most pitchers end at about 50 percent. Keep in mind that a short stride cuts the amount of time in the wind-up. Why is this such a big deal? Well, a short stride means that the shoulder and elbow won’t reach the correct position. Without a proper stride, the arm must play catch up for the remainder of the throwing motion. This leads to increased elbow injury risk, which rarely spells long-term success for pitchers. Consider the towel drill to improve stride length.
- The “Inverted W” – Ah yes, a pitching coach’s worst nightmare. The “Inverted W” is a result of leading with your elbows instead of the ball as your hands break from the glove. Shoulders shrug and the ball hangs below, looking like an inverted W. Granted, all-star righthander Stephen Strasburg has carved out a nice career despite an inverted W. But by no means should this be taught to young pitchers. Throwing with such mechanics puts a significant amount of strain on the elbow and disrupts the normal timing of the pitching motion. To put a stop to the inverted W, get in touch with a pitching instructor.
- Too much weight on the front leg – A pitcher’s power comes from their hips and lower half. In order to produce the necessary power to throw, it’s imperative to stay on your back leg throughout the stride phase. The last thing you want is to come down violently on your front side and take your hips/glutes completely out of the equation. To correct this, go through your stride repetitively in front of a mirror until staying on your back leg becomes muscle memory.
- Moving the head away from home plate – The acceleration phase occurs when the shoulder begins to move forward from the early cocking position and ends at ball release. Should a pitcher’s head move toward either side, there’s a good chance they will struggle with control. Repetition in front of a mirror should lead to improvement in terms of keeping your head in line with home plate.
- Poor follow through – A sound follow-through has the throwing arm finishing outside of the front foot with a back leg kick that comes off the ground. Consider using the towel drill to improve this mechanical flaw as well.
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